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Professor Frederic J. Schwartz
Head of Department
19th- and 20th-century German art, architecture and visual culture
Photo: Christopher Tribble
Frederic J. Schwartz’s interests include all areas of
the visual culture and built environment in the German-speaking
world from the late nineteenth century to the present. He has
lectured and published widely on modern architecture and design,
the critical theory of the Frankfurt School, the German avant-garde
of the early twentieth century and the History of Art as an academic
His first book, The Werkbund: Design Theory and Mass Culture Before the First World War (Yale University Press, 1996) traces the parallel development
of architecture and mass-culture theory in early twentieth-century
Germany. This book considered not only design theory and practice
but also philosophy, sociology, as well as changes in intellectual
property law that had a powerful effect on the circulation of
images at that stage of modernity. More recently, his book Blind Spots: Critical Theory and the History of Art in Twentieth-Century Germany (Yale University Press, 2005) looks at the
critical theory of Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Ernst
Bloch and Siegfried Kracauer, exploring the emergence of their
thought out of contact with artists such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
and engagement with art historians including Heinrich Wölfflin,
Alois Riegl, Wilhelm Pinder and Hans Sedlmayr. In both works,
and in articles on Adolf Behne, Adolf Loos, aspects of the Bauhaus, Peter Weiss, empathy theory and
film, he has sought to establish new reference points by which
to gauge the politics of the image in early twentieth-century
Schwartz's research includes a project on “German Art and the Culture of the Case, 1890-1930.” This will consider developments in German and Austrian art in a way that will cut across styles, media and ideologies to consider a common set of strategies used by artists and writers in a response to changing legal parameters concerning their abilities to represent their contemporary social and political concerns. These often involved the provocation or response to scandals, images of crimes (such as the notorious Lustmord imagery of Grosz and Dix), and the exploration of medical and forensic science.
Prof. Schwartz would be pleased to consider research proposals in all areas of the visual culture of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany and Austria. This would include not only artistic practice but issues related to aesthetics, critical theory and the history of Art History as an academic discipline. As a Swedish speaker, he would also welcome proposals relating to the Scandinavian countries and cultures.
Previous PhD students include:
Gerald Adler, “Tessenow in Hellerau: The Materialisation of Space”, 2004.
Stina Barchan, “Mime in the Archive: Hannah Höch and Kurt Schwitters”, 2009.
Paul Fox, “Visual Narratives of Conflict in Germany, 1870–1933”, 2009.
Kerstin Stakemeier, "Entkunstung: Artistic Models for the End of Art", 2010.
Steven Gambardella, "The AIDS Crisis in North American Visual Culture", 2010
Current PhD students:
Catherine Berger, "The Stieglitz Circle and the Romantic Anti-Capitalist Worldview"
Gemma Carroll, "Merz Encounters: Kurt Schwitters"
Jenny Nachtigall, "Psychoanalysis and Politics in Berlin Dada"
Nikos Pegioudis, "Art and the Culture of Radicalism in Berlin, 1929-33"
Anne Reimers, "Fashionability and Representation: Figurative Painting, Drawing and Illustration in Berlin, 1920-1929"
Tom Wilkinson, "Art for the Masses: The Use and Abuse of Popular Art History in Weimar Germany"
A list of publications is available from UCL's Institutional Research Information Service via the Iris link below.